That he ne halp a quantite holynesse to wexe:
Some by bedes biddynge and some by pilgrymage
And other pryve penaunce, and somme thorugh penyes delynge.
...Clennesse of the comune and clerkes clene lyvynge
Made Unitee Holy Chirche in holynesse stonde.
-- from The Vision of Piers Plowman, ca. 1375
The book is out!
Bedes Byddyng: Medieval Rosaries and Paternoster Beads (81 pages, $4.50) is my short introduction to the history and social history of rosary beads before 1600 in Western Europe. Contents include: the origin and spread of Christian prayer beads, the words used to describe them (bead, paternoster, rosary), a short history of the prayers, how to identify prayer beads as distinct from other beads, and how the beads were made, worn, and used. An appendix has complete instructions for making your own medieval-style rosary.
Bedes Byddyng is issue #135 of the journal The Compleat Anachronist. Copies can be ordered here, and media-mail postage is free. (Click on the link to page 14 on that site, and it's issue #135, down at the bottom of the page. Bulk discounts are also available.)
Writing it was definitely an interesting experience. It took me nearly three months to produce about 22,000 words, and at times I thought it would never be done! It's by far the biggest writing project I've ever undertaken, even though it's only about a third as long as a "real" book. (How do all those authors do it?)
It's generally been getting good reviews, some of which have made me giggle. Some of the material will look familiar to those of you who read this blog, but I also discovered some new things and happily included them. (And eventually will probably blog about most of them as well.) It has diagrams and illustrations, but alas, no photos -- the illustrations are "fake" woodcuts I created by cutting and pasting bits of real woodcuts published as "clip art," which was great fun (and neatly avoided any copyright hassles).
I hadn't seen the manuscript since I turned it in six months ago, and I am now grimacing over the usual quota of typos, formatting mistakes and bits of authorial disorganization that made it into the printed version. I'll do better next time: but I'm happy to have it to offer.
I'd be interested in anyone's comments once you've read it. Critiques, too.
(And P.S. I do have a few review copies available; if you write for publication and would like to publish a review, please e-mail me.)